Wednesday, October 31, 2007

West Bountiful Mayor likes to rock the boat

An article in yesterday's Davis County Clipper talks about West Bountiful's Mayor James Behunin not wanting to re-appoint Justice Court Judge Joel Campbell. The article goes on to quote Judge Campbell as saying "I could just choose to resign, or I can choose to confront the Mayor and ask him to show cause why not to reappoint me and that’s what we are doing Tuesday night."

The only problem with the Judge's comments is that the state law is pretty vague. The relevant section of state code says that the decision of the legislative body, the city council in this case, is not subject to appeal. It also says that one thing that could lead to a judge not being re-appointed is "any other factors considered relevant by the appointing authority." Mayor Behunin would be the "appointing authority" in this case.

I have absolutely no training in matters of law, but, it would seem to me that the City Council could justify not re-appointing Judge Campbell for just about anything that Mayor Behunin deemed a "relevant factor." In fact, couldn't the mayor just say that he believes it's a "relevant factor" to have the judge be a resident of the city?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Woods Cross Elementary School Principal convinced me to vote FOR vouchers

The Woods Cross Elementary School Principal, Richard Baird, has convinced me to vote for Utah's Referendum 1. That's right folks, a public school principal has convinced me that I should vote for private school vouchers. No, he didn't tell me that this is what I should do, rather, his actions have convinced me that there needs to be a change.

I have heard of numerous occasions when parents have complained to Mr. Baird about various problems that they are having with their child's education. Isn't parent involvement what the public schools want? Apparently Mr. Baird doesn't want this. The way Mr. Baird has handled these parental complaints is to tell all the students not to complain to their parents. It would seem to me that Mr. Baird would just prefer to believe that all is well in his little Elementary School and not have to worry about any problems that may exist.

In a previous post, I mentioned that if I complain to a public school principal, they may or may not fix the problem. It would seem to me that not fixing the problem is exactly what happens at the public school that my children attend. Now, if I were to complain to a private school principal and he doesn't do something that I deem satisfactory, I move my kids to a different private school and that principal sees a direct hit to the bottom line. Is Mr. Baird really going to care if I take my students out of Woods Cross Elementary School? I would argue that he would probably welcome it. If I do that, he doesn't have to deal with bad comments about his behavior on this blog.

I can promise you if I made over $78,000 per year like Richard Baird does, and I didn't take customer complaints seriously, I'd be looking for a new job very soon. Why does that not happen with the public school system?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why I don't support Jill Hadley Evans

Woods Cross voters have the opportunity to make a big mistake on November 6, 2007. That mistake would be voting for Jill Hadley Evans for Woods Cross City Council. Jill is currently married to Marc Evans (Although this is not her first marriage.) Marc is currently a public works employee of Woods Cross City making $20.13 per hour. (Wage information for Marc is from I don't feel that Jill could make unbiased decisions as a council member when her husband is getting over $40,000 per year from Woods Cross City.
Let's not add more questions to the decisions our Council makes. Vote for somebody besides Jill Hadley Evans on November 6th.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who's driving this bus?

An article about the North Salt Lake City Mayor's race in the Salt Lake Tribune got me to thinking about something that I think we struggle with in Woods Cross as well.
In the article, Mayoral candidate, Lynn Ballard maintains that "City Manager Collin Wood has failed to provide the council with all the facts needed to make decisions." I know that City Managers can influence a council greatly. I saw it when I was on the council. I know that when I was on the council, I would get extreme push back from Gary Uresk anytime I questioned what he was doing.
I have worked in various companies in my professional career and at each of those places, I had to give a full accounting to my boss as to what I was accomplishing. If my boss questioned me about certain aspects, I didn't get defensive and say things like "Do you feel like I'm not doing my job?" I understood that it was my boss who would have to answer to upper management for the things I had been doing.
Now let's look at this from a city vantage point. I think sometimes, Gary Uresk thinks he is "upper management." There was a time,
while I was on the council, where somebody left city employment. I questioned Gary about this and he got very defensive acting as if I felt he wasn't doing his job. I believe that all City Managers that are employed by cities with the same government structure as Woods Cross need to remember that they are not "upper management." The voters are "upper management." The voters elect council members who then select a City Manager. I never remember doing a employee review of Gary Uresk in the four years I was on the council. I know at my current place of employment, every employee has a employee review at least annually. The City Council is in charge of hiring and firing the City Manager, why then should the City Council not have a employee review with that City Manager, at least annually?

Friday, October 19, 2007

$15,000 isn't in the budget this year

If you read my previous post, you can probably guess that I'm in favor of UTOPIA. Well, today the Associated Press is highlighting another reason that UTOPIA can't come to Woods Cross fast enough. The article, found here, talks about how Comcast blocks certain types of traffic like BitTorrent uploads. Now the average user may look at this and say, "Well the majority of that traffic today is used for pirated music and movies." That would be akin to saying in the early days of the World Wide Web, "The majority of that is used for pornography, so we shouldn't use it at all."

Is that an extreme view? Maybe. In the early days of the World Wide Web, the majority was used for porn, however, now we know all the good things that it is also used for. So what good things is BitTorrent used for? Many companies distribute their software, legally, through this method. I'm a Linux Systems Administrator for my profession. One of the major distributions of Linux, Ubuntu, distributes their operating system, legally, through this method. Ubuntu just released an upgrade to their operating system yesterday, however, I can't get it through BitTorrent because of the actions of Comcast.

One argument that I've heard for the need to wait to do a feasibility study is that the $15,000 was not put in this year's budget. Many times while I was on the City Council, we would approve spending $15,000 that was not included in the budget. That's why state law allows a City Council to amend the budget during the year. One such authorization was towards the end of 2004 to replace a vehicle for Gary Uresk, the City Administrator. The City Council approved this expenditure unanimously, even though there was nothing wrong with the vehicle in use, other than it had been repaired from damage sustained in a traffic accident. I don't recall whether the expenditure was made or not, but I know it was approved.

Why must we act now? One reason is that the state has had a moratorium on cities joining UTOPIA for the past four years. That moratorium recently expired, however, it is quite likely that the moratorium will be re-visited and may be re-instituted in the State Legislative session in January. Why was the moratorium put in place? My belief is that it was instituted due to heavy lobbying by Qwest and Comcast.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

UTOPIA in Woods Cross

The Woods Cross City council is currently looking into becoming a member of the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA). As part of this process, a City Council work meeting was held on Tuesday. The council invited representatives from UTOPIA, Qwest, and Comcast to be in attendance. The city came up with a list of questions for each of the entities. Citizens in attendance were also allowed to ask questions. I'll give my point of view of what happened. There is also a blog at where you can get another resident's point of view.
The UTOPIA representatives first heard the questions at the meeting due to Gary Uresk e-mailing them to the wrong person. They answered as many of them as they could without proper research. I'll highlight a couple. They mentioned that the projected take rates (take rate is the percentage of people who do sign up for the service) from the feasibility studies were between 8% and 40%. Overall the projected take rate was about 17%. They have a overall take rate today of about 25%. UTOPIA has agreements with providers who actually provide the service to the end users. UTOPIA itself doesn't provide the service to the end user. I mention this because, there was a question asking What % of the time is your system fully functional to the end user? UTOPIA would not really be able to answer that question as they only provide the service to the providers. UTOPIA did mention that they have Service Level Agreements (SLA) with their providers for 99.999% uptime. They also mentioned that because they focus on being an "Open Infrastructure," Comcast and Qwest could run their services over UTOPIA. To date, they have chosen not to. UTOPIA representatives also mentioned that if pledge monies needed to be invoked (which they haven't been yet) it would be somewhere between $3 - $8 per household. I think it is important to remember that if there is a high enough take rate, the city would receive revenue from UTOPIA. Even if the take rate is as low as 25% overall, there would not be any public money used.
Comcast went next and mentioned several areas in the city where they do not provide services. This includes the Cahoon Meadows, Field Crest, and a majority of the Clover Dell subdivisions. They hope to get service in these areas "soon." I noted that soon to a corporate entity probably is not the same as soon to a resident who wants the service. I asked Comcast if they had a limit on their service as it relates to how much I could download or upload. They mentioned that there was a limit, but, would not state in gigabytes what that limit was. I knew this would be their answer as I saw them featured on a "Get Gephardt" segment a while ago. Their representative mentioned that if you were a heavy user, you could get a commercial account that runs about $100 per month. The regular "limited" account is about $35 per month. The only reason I mention this, is because Xmission, who provides service across UTOPIA does have a limit of 100 gigabytes that they clearly state on their website.
Qwest went next and dodged most of the questions by saying that the information was proprietary. They stated that they would not be comfortable telling which areas in the city didn't have DSL available when there were competitors in the room. I found this very interesting, since Comcast had just finished telling Qwest which areas Comcast doesn't offer service. I'm more than willing to tell all Qwest competitors that I can't get DSL at my house in the area of 1450 West 1900 South. I asked, "When I go to Qwest's website, it says that I qualify for DSL, however, when I actually try and get DSL I'm told that my line doesn't qualify. In the information that Qwest will give to the City Council, will my house show up as having DSL available?" The representative dodged this question better than anything I've witnessed before. I felt like this was a yes or no question. The Qwest representative said that some areas qualify for DSL, but there are technical limitations in some of the lines that mean those lines can't get DSL. My reason for asking this is that if Qwest provides the council with a list of areas that do have DSL available and my house is on that list, then that list is not accurate as I cannot get DSL at my house. Qwest would be over stating how much of the city is really covered.
I also found it interesting that Rick Earnshaw stated that he "has a real problem with spending public money to compete with private entities." I stood up in the open session that followed and commented that it is ironic to me that he has a problem with public money being spent to compete with private industry when this happens all the time. Rick Earnshaw voted for Woods Cross joining the South Davis Recreation District which competes with private gyms. In fact, Xcel Fitness claimed in a Davis County Clipper article that the taxpayer funded recreation center put them out of business in Bountiful.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why I support Dave Hill for City Council

When I was on the Woods Cross City Council, I attended Planning Commission meetings as part of my duties. In those meetings, I always appreciated the comments Dave Hill would make in regards to the matters that came before the commission. I didn't always agree with the decisions that he made, but, I always knew that he had studied the issue and was making the decision that he felt was best for the residents of Woods Cross.
I know that as a City Council member, Dave Hill will study the issues and will always make the decisions that he feels are best for the residents of Woods Cross. I can't ask for more from a City Council member, than that they study every issue that comes before them and always vote in a way that they feel will make things better for the residents of our fine City. I know Dave Hill will do this and that is why I'm supporting him for Woods Cross City Council.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Don't damage national unity!

An article on ZDNet talks about a law in Jordan that could punish bloggers who post things that are "damaging to national unity." I can't imagine what would happen if such a law ever passed in the US. I know that the chances of such a law being implemented here are slim to none, but, it still made me wonder what the effects would be.
It seems like most of the political blogging that happens in the U.S. of A. is damaging to national unity. Now what if we rounded up all those bloggers and put them in jail? I'm glad I live in the United States of America where I'm free to blog about anything that may be damaging to national unity.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Woods Cross Council goofs again!

The Woods Cross City Council made a major blunder, again! At their council meeting on October 2nd, they approved a re-zone request to allow heavy industrial to expand in Woods Cross.
This may seem like a small thing that is isolated to a certain portion of the city, however, in my opinion, it makes a bad statement to all heavy industrial companies in Woods Cross. In the past, the opinion of the Council has been that the City would eventually like to see heavy industrial go away. Probably not tomorrow, but, maybe in 100 years or so. Now the opinion of the majority of the Council seems to be "Let them grow where they want, as long as it's not in my backyard."
I believe that Council member Rick Earnshaw (since he is up for re-election this year) needs to offer an explanation for his vote to allow Heavy Industrial expansion in Woods Cross.